Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Michael Savage and the New Yorker

This latest issue of the New Yorker ought to get a prize. When the the New Yorker does an article on a topic, they sometimes devote twelve pages with four columns each. They did an article in one of the May 1994 issues about a blind man who regained his sight in his late fifties. It was fascinating on a scientific and a psychological level. One of the benefits of my subscription is that I can retrieve it from the archives on the site.

The Michael Savage interview in this latest issue was a great piece of writing. Savage is a challenge to those who would pigeonhole conservatives. His love of animals and his ethno-botany credentials make him a man who can command respect in wide circles. Additionally, he has wide ranging and eclectic musical tastes. The portrait in the New Yorker by Kelefa Sanneh was neither fawning nor a hatchet job but a vindication of the confidence I have had in the New Yorker for years. I am very much in agreement with a lot of Michael Savage's politics. A recurring vision I have is of a radio and television network with the style and format of NPR and the politics of Michael Savage and Michael Reagan, who is the son of the late President Ronald Reagan and also a conservative talk show host. There are many people who are put off by talk radio who could be drawn in by a conservative version of NPR.

My parents subscribed to The New Yorker. I enjoy it on its own merits and as a reminder of my childhood. Unfortunately, I can no longer let my kids look at the cartoons as I once did. There is the occasional four letter word and also cartoons dealing with "sensitive material". I frankly do not want a New Yorker cartoon to force a "birds and the bees" discussion.

This latest issue of the New Yorker discusses the relative merits of the Kindle and other portable reading devices. It discusses in detail what it is like to use a Kindle and compares it with some other quality devices that have not gotten as much press but that do better than the Kindle in various areas. I think that wireless reading devices really do have a future. The New Yorker article discusses this issue in depth.

There is an article in this current issue that is the part one in two articles about Siberia, a vast part of the Russian far east that is as big as the continental US and most of Europe combined. Under communism, the Soviet far east was a place you could earn huge salaries in exchange for putting up with harsh living conditions. Many people were lured east by the prospect of saving money and living better. When the USSR fell apart, so did the economy in Siberia. Now, there is anger and poverty there. I am looking forward to reading in this issue of the New Yorker about a region that has always fascinated me.

The New Yorker web site offers some whole articles and some teasers to get you to subscribe to the magazine. A one year subscription will cost you $40.00, bringing a magazine with a $5.00 news stand price down to 85 cents an issue. I bought my subscription on the Barnes and Noble web site with a discount coupon and saved even more money. Once you subscribe to the print edition, you can register for a password and enjoy the full benefits of the New Yorker site. To me, the New Yorker site is a big intellectual play ground. Some issues are better than others, but this issue was a five star winner.

There is another way of rating a magazine and that is by the "shelf life " test. Newsweek and Time generally have dated content. When they get old, they are mostly stale. Reader's Digest, Harpers, National Geographic and the New Yorker have long shelf lives. I keep a stack of my old copies of Harpers and the New Yorker. There is always something that is still fresh enough to bite into after months and sometimes years in the New Yorker.

It is interesting to see how the internet and traditional print media join forces. The New Yorker has put together a magazine and a web site that complement each other nicely. A magazine that delivers so nicely deserves to survive and prosper. I hope my readers check out the New Yorker site and the magazine.

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